Post-Modernism

What is the definition of modernity?
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism (or agrarianism) toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, centralization, hierarchy, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance.
Modernization is the current term for an old process—the process of social change whereby less developed societies acquire characteristics common to more developed societies. The process is activated by international, or intersocietal, communication. As Karl Marx noted over a century ago in the preface to Das Kapital: “The country that is more developed industrially only shows, to the less developed, the image of its own future.”
Modernization theory is used to explain the process of modernization within societies. Modernization refers to a model of a progressive transition from a ‘pre-modern’ or ‘traditional‘ to a ‘modern’ society. The theory looks at the internal factors of a country while assuming that, with assistance, “traditional” countries can be brought to development in the same manner more developed countries have.
Modernization theory not only stresses the process of change, but also the responses to that change. It also looks at internal dynamics while referring to social and cultural structures and the adaptation of new technologies.
Proponents of modernization theory claim that modern states are wealthier and more powerful, and that their citizens are freer to enjoy a higher standard of living. Developments such as new data technology and the need to update traditional methods in transport, communication and production, it is argued, make modernization necessary or at least preferable to the status quo. This view makes critique of modernization difficult, since it implies that such developments control the limits of human interaction, and not vice versa. It also implies that human agency controls the speed and severity of modernization. Supposedly, instead of being dominated by tradition, societies undergoing the process of modernization typically arrive at forms of governance dictated by abstract principles. Traditional religious beliefs and cultural traits, according to the theory, usually become less important as modernization takes hold.
In sociologicalcritical theory, modernization is linked to an overarching process of rationalisation. When modernization increases within a society, the individual becomes increasingly important, eventually replacing the family or community as the fundamental unit of society.
Modernization theory has been criticized, mainly because it conflated modernization with Westernization. In this model, the modernization of a society required the destruction of the indigenous culture and its replacement by a more Westernized one. By one definition modern simply refers to the present, and any society still in existence is therefore modern. Proponents of modernization typically view only Western society as being truly modern arguing that others are primitive or unevolved by comparison. This view sees unmodernized societies as inferior even if they have the same standard of living as western societies. Opponents of this view argue that modernity is independent of culture and can be adapted to any society.
It has also been criticised empirically, as modernization theorists ignore external sources of change in societies.
Post-Modernism:- The transformation from modernity to post modernity is associated with the widely noted move from an industrial to post-industrial society.
Post modernity is characterized by disintegration, decentralization, devolution, fragmentation, adhocracy, relativism, etc. It is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific or objective, efforts to explain reality.
download
Although postmodernism emerged as a reaction against modernity it does not presuppose the end of modernity.
Postmodernism is the belief that there is no absolute reality and the reality is socially constructed. Social reality is essentially fragmented, indeterminate and discontinuous. It rejects the methodologies of modernism viz. essential-ism, universal-ism, logical positivism, functionalism and reduction-ism. It prefers methodological anarchy.
The postmodern environment is in which public administration is characterized by a complete distrust of universalism, orthodoxy, and a ‘one best method’. Instead it is anti-foundationalist, deconstructive, and espouses a profusion of competing ‘realities’.
Postmodernism is the return of, and revenge of the different, the assertion of the random non pattern, and unassimilable anomaly’.
Theory of post-modern public administration, labeled as ‘constructivism’
is based on the triology of –
1. critical theory
2. the phenomenology
3. structuration theory
Some viewed ‘reinventing government’ movement as an example of postmodernism. Postmodernism public administration rejects existing and accepted theories such as public management doctrine, constitutionalism and communitarianism in favor of constructing a ‘discourse’ theory of public administration.
The authors identify four key themes of the postmodem experience.
First, stable communication is no longer possible in an age of continually manipulated information and symbols.
Second, life is increasingly self-referential. As the line between news and entertainment blurs, our social experience no longer provides a point of reference for what is “real.”
Third, not only is our reality self-referential, it is also thin and fleeting. Finally, postmodemism suggests a decentered self where all the world is a text.
Structuration theory 
Structuration theory, concept in sociology that offers perspectives on human behaviour based on a synthesis of structure and agency effects known as the “duality of structure.”
Structure Theories that argue for the preeminence of structure (also called the objectivist view in this context) resolve that the behaviour of individuals is largely determined by their socialization into that structure (such as conforming to a society’s expectations with respect to gender or social class).  Structuralists describe the effect of structure in contrasting ways. French social scientist Émile Durkheim highlighted the positive role of stability and permanence, whereas philosopher Karl Marx described structures as protecting the few, doing little to meet the needs of the many.
In contrast, proponents of agency theory (also called the subjective view in this context) consider that individuals possess the ability to exercise their own free will and make their own choices. Here, social structures are viewed as products of individual action that are sustained or discarded, rather than as incommensurable forces.
Sociologist Anthony Giddens, developed the concept of structuration. Giddens argues that just as an individual’s autonomy is influenced by structure, structures are maintained and adapted through the exercise of agency. The interface at which an actor meets a structure is termed “structuration.”
Structuration theory takes the position that social action cannot be fully explained by the structure or agency theories alone. Instead, it recognizes that actors operate within the context of rules produced by social structures, and only by acting in a compliant manner are these structures reinforced. As a result, social structures have no inherent stability outside human action because they are socially constructed. Alternatively, through the exercise of reflexivity, agents modify social structures by acting outside the constraints the structures place on them.
Giddens’s framework of structure differs from that in the classic theory. He proposes three kinds of structure in a social system.
  • Domination (power): Giddens also uses “resources” to refer to this type. “Authoritative resources” allow agents to control persons, whereas “allocative resources” allow agents to control material objects.
  • Signification (meaning)
  • Legitimation (norms): Giddens sometimes uses “rules” to refer to either signification or legitimation. An agent draws upon these stocks of knowledge via memory to inform him or herself about the external context, conditions, and potential results of an action.)

Phenomenologists attempt to account for the subjective qualities which logical positivists and empiricists assume to be unreal or are mistakenly treated as objective observable phenomena.

For more than half a century, critics of logical positivism have pointed out the inherent limitations of empirical research and offered alternative philosophies and methods for examining phenomenon that scientists cannot observe and measure. One group of critics, the phenomenologists, has argued that the research methods of the physical sciences are ill suited to the study of human behavior and society. They insist that to understand human behavior one must recognize that how one perceives the world affects how one acts and perceptions differ because reality is a social construct. People are not simply responding to objective conditions, in other words.

The philosophy also offers a methodology for dealing with the public by reaffirming that public officials are part of that public and, thus, have a responsibility to deal with them as fellow citizens rather than as customers or clients. As the title of a recent public administration text expressed it, “The Government Is Us”.

They seek to divest themselves of their assumptions concerning what is real and what is not and to begin with the content of the human consciousness as the focus of their investigations. In essence, they seek to shift from questions of reality to questions of the meaning of phenomena.

Our dominant scientific method has long relied on sensory experience to define and study the social world, i.e., logical positivism or empiricism. The focus is on observable phenomena. Researchers in the social sciences adopted the tools of the natural sciences, often with little regard for problems of application when dealing with human behavior and often with too much confidence in empirical method. For positivists, if phenomena could not be observed and measured, they were often discounted and seldom studied seriously. Other analytical approaches were often criticized as being unscientific.

Phenomenological reasoning is not diametrically opposed to that of logical positivism. Indeed, phenomenologists, for the most part, do not attack empiricism as being invalid as a scientific method; rather they insist only that empiricism presents a very narrow view of the social world in several ways.

Norton Long (1954) noted over forty years ago that the objectives of public administration had seemingly drifted from a concern with the public interest to a preoccupation with organizational efficiency and control. Professionalization, bureaucratization, technical proficiency, and isolation from public scrutiny and accountability have discouraged attention to the broader public interest in favor of a highly rationalized system of administration.

Even today, many public administrators and public administrationists do not see the inherent political nature of management reforms and how they may distract organizations from their mission to serve the public. In 1954, Long also pointed out the importance of having a “representative bureaucracy” to help inform policy making by broadening the perspective and clarifying the public interest, but he has more recently concluded that that role seems to have fallen prey to partisanship.

As a practical matter, phenomenological reasoning encourages attention to how people relate to bureaucratic organizations and government programs, as well as to each other. For example, as Hummel and others have pointed out, the tendency to “objectify” people in social science research and in government administration may have serious repercussions. The apparently low public regard for government agencies and officials may well be a reflection of how insensitive and unresponsive many agencies and officials have been in recent decades. As Hummel suggests, the assumption of a They perspective in which the public, the clients, become subjects rather than participants in public programs, creates perceptual barriers that reduce the capacities of agencies to understand and address social problems.

Phenomenology offers a useful set of tools and perspectives for public administration researchers and practitioners. Researchers may fail to recognize important issues because they are not sensitive to the realities with which people and communities must contend. Officials may well alienate public support for programs by depersonalizing the administrative processes and by failing to respond to the problems that the public feels are important.

Interestingly, phenomenologists have warned about misuses of Max Weber’s bureaucratic model, indicating that public administrationists and administrators need to be aware of the abstract nature of ideal types. Weber intended his classic bureaucratic model to help the researcher understand relationships among variables and help practitioners understand bureaucratic processes. The model does not represent reality. As pointed out during the Minnowbrook conference in 1969, it is a problem in the field of public administration that positivists took the Weberian model to be a goal rather than a device for understanding bureaucratic structures better. The tendency is to use it as a model of reality simply will not work and is certainly not desirable.

The phenomenological perspective supports a consociated model of bureaucracy, in which project teams replace strictly hierarchical structure, decision-making is decentralized, leadership is situational, clientele are represented in the organization, and employees are highly professional and mobile. In that regard, phenomenology supports a normative model of administrative organization and behavior. In fact, Hummel (1990) suggests that the traditional, “pyramid” or hierarchical manager, and the classical Weberian bureaucratic model, will become dysfunctional in an age in which information flow and role flexibility are far more important than administrative control.

The movement away from “command and control” structures, with their centralized executive authority, to more collaborative and cooperative arrangements suggests profound alterations in how people relate to each other and to their organizations.

Scientists and administrators need to be reminded that human values should be the central values. Administration is not simply a process of rational, value-neutral action. It has normative bases and effects.



David Farmer  connects critical theory to the theme of anti-administration: Anti-administrative discourse exhibits radical openness in public administration thinking and action. It seeks to include not only mainstream ideas and people, but also ideas and people that are other—excluded or marginalized. It seeks to include people and ideas that are subordinate. For people, examples are financially poor clients and citizens, minorities and women, and employees dealing with their bosses.

Farmer notes: “Post-structuralism objects to the structuralist idea that, at least in principle, the world is comprehensible through analysis of systems and structures”. Structure becomes an “intersection of presences and absences [wherein] underlying codes have to be inferred from surface manifestations”.

Has post-structuralism had any impact on public administration? Farmer suggests that its impact has been marginal and that interest in it has waned because public administration is fad conscious . Nevertheless, poststructuralism remains an effective analytical strategy for explaining the paradoxes we face in public administration and in broader social contexts.


Essentialism is the view that, for any specific entity (such as an animal, a group of people, a physical object, a concept), there is a set of attributes which are necessary to itsidentity and function.

Essentialism can be defined as “characteristics of persons or groups are largely similar in all human cultures and historical periods, since they are significantly influenced by biological factors.”

For example if someone is feminine it is because they are born with these characteristics. Social construction theory on the other hand “argues against essentialized views of identity in favor of historical and cultural approaches and methods.”

According to the social construction theory “Race/Sex/Gender/Sexuality is produced through discourses and practices in historically and culturally specific ways.” Categories are already created by society and different people fit into these different categories. The difference between these two theories is that essentialism believes qualities such a sexuality and gender are mainly caused by biological factors while social construction theory shows that society has more influence on these qualities than biology.


In literal terms, a metanarrative means a “big story”. It represents, in short, anMetanarrative: “Big Stories” explanation for everything that happens in a society. In Sociology, the concept of a metanarrative is sometimes referred-to as a “high level theory” or, more-usually, a perspective / ideology.


 Kurt Lewin’s Force filed Theory:- change-management-theory-of-kurt-lewins-3-728

FIELD THEORY. Its basic statements are that:

  1. Behavior must be derived from a totality of coexisting facts
  2. These coexisting facts make up a “dynamic field,” which means that the state of any part of the field depends on every other part of it
  3. Behavior depends on the present field rather than on the past or the future. “This is in contrast both to the belief of teleology that the future is the cause of behavior, and that of asociationism that the past is the cause of behavior.”

The field is the life space, which contains the person and his or her psychological (or behavioral) environment. The psychological environment is the environment as the person perceives and understands it, and as related to his needs and quasi-needs.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s